Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Newb Answers Some Questions

Well, we’re into a groove now – slowly but surely, The Newb is finding his way in this strange new world of “football.” From where I sit, this looks to be an entertaining, and possibly very informative week, with the continuation of a top-heavy (thank you, Manchester squads) Premier League schedule AND the start of UEFA’s Champions League play. I can be sure that Citeh can take care of Swansea or Tottenham – but Napoli or Bayern Munich? Those are matchups that’ll tell us where Mancini’s men are at. Looking forward to ‘em.

In the meantime, I thought I’d answer a few Newb-style questions. As always, email any of your queries to

Scarves Up: What’s the deal with the scarves, anyway?
One of the coolest sights in sport is seeing a pre-game “scarves up” ritual, in which supporters across the stadium raise their team’s scarf, stretched out fully, and, in a show of solidarity, sing the team’s anthem. Liverpool is a nice example.

But... What’s the deal with the scarves, anyway? It seems to this Newb – from what I can tell...and please correct me if I’m off base – scarves originated as a soccer accessory around the turn of the last century, and simply allowed fans a way to show their team devotion through the colder months. Scarves, as opposed to some other clothing at the time, were relatively cheap and easy to make, particularly in the alternating stripe patterns that started the movement. As time went on, more complex patterns were featured, including club crests, names, and even pictures of players. Now, you’d be hard pressed to see a game without a massive “scarf wall” created by fans with $20+ scarves.

Really? Arsenal FC’s manager’s name is ARSENE?
Yep. Really. Of course, there’s no connection to Arsene Wenger’s first name and the Club’s name. But I bet it doesn’t hurt on a resume – and that’s why I named my kid Apple Google Facebook.

The Transfer Window: So, how does that work?
Starting out, I figured the transfer window just worked like the Major League Baseball trade deadline. And it does...a little. As should be evident, the transfer window is the time period during which a player can be transferred to another club. HOWEVER, the “transfer window” as it’s usually discussed, is regulated by FIFA, and each national football/soccer association has their own windows (one in pre-season and one at mid-season). So, the transfer window for the Premier League may be during the summer months, but Sweden’s is in mid-winter. Transfers are completed by registering a player with his new team through FIFA – and a player can be transferred at any time, as long as the team he’s being transferred to has an open window (the association he’s leaving doesn’t need to have an open window). So there’s lots of international governance happening here... Also, free agents can sign with a squad at any point in the season, provided their old team had released them before the close of the transfer window.

And then there are loans. Simply put, loans need to happen on the same schedule as other transfers, but a structured so that when Club A loans a player to Club Z, the player remains under contract with Club A while Club Z pays his salary. Loans give financial relief to one team while giving the other a short-term lease on talent. Whew. That’s a tough one.

What are Man City’s supporters doing after a goal?

This was a nice surprise when I started supporting City – the supporters’ goal celebration consists of turning their backs to the field, joining arms over each others’ shoulders, hopping up and down, and yelling... “Let’s all do the Poznan!!!” My sense of humor is a little on the quirky side, let’s say – so obviously, without any context, I was tickled pink at such an absurd celebration.

Here’s the history on it: in 2010’s Europa League Group A, Man City were defeated 3-1 by Lech Poznan of Poland. A sad day, for sure, but City fans took note of the Poznan fans’ celebration, and co-opted it for their own, tweaking it, of course, for City’s purposes.

As ever, thanks for reading, and thanks for your questions. Next time, we’re looking to break down Premiere League play versus UEFA’s Champions League, Europa League, and the Euro Championship – how do they differ and what does it mean for the schedules?


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